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InsiderEdge 10-24-2004 02:42 PM

Dallas Cowboys at Green Bay Packers Sunday NFL
 
Dallas Cowboys at Green Bay Packers 4:15 PM ET

Dallas Cowboys +3.5 Ė103 (2 Units)

We lost a tough one with the Cowboys last weekend but we are coming back with them again Sunday. Losses don't get much harder than the one to the Steelers, when Dallas lost after playing one of its best games this season. Having lost home games in back-to-back weeks, the Cowboys fell to 2-3 and were below .500 for the first time since Bill Parcells lost his Dallas regular-season coaching debut last year. Green Bay got things rolling last week against Detroit but their home field advantage isnít very strong these days. The Packers are treading in third place because they have yet to win in three outings this season at Lambeau Field. This is not just a problem this season, as no longer does Lambeau strike fear into opponents, who have left with wins in seven of the last 13 visits.

The Cowboys have been one of the league's most inconsistent teams. While that makes them difficult to figure out, it also makes them very dangerous for all opponents. Teams must prepare for the Cowboys' best effort, because when they put together a complete game, they are tough to beat. Averaging only 17 points per game, the Cowboys will attempt to end their two-game slide by forcing the issue on defense. Their blitz-happy bunch ranks sixth in the league with 14 sacks. Ends Greg Ellis and Marcellus Wiley and tackles LaíRoi Glover and Leonardo Carson need to control the line of scrimmage to allow the Cowboys' athletic group of linebackers to roam free and stop Ahman Green in the gaps before he gets to the second level and has room to break a long run. Green hasn't had a 100-yard rushing game since Week 2 and has had greater than 17 rushing attempts only once since then. In Green Bayís two victories this season, the Packers have not turned the ball over. In their four losses, Green Bay has coughed the ball up 14 times. The Packers minus-8 turnover ratio ranks them 29th among the NFLís 32 teams. Green Bayís pass defense has struggled this season. Keyshawn Johnson and Terry Glenn are talented and capable of doing some serious damage, especially against an inexperienced and weak Green Bay secondary. Al Harris has done a respectable job this season against receivers like Indianapolisí Marvin Harrison and Tennesseeís Derrick Mason, but the biggest concern here isnít Harris, itís rookie Ahmad Carroll. Carroll didnít do a bad job in last Sundayís win over the Detroit Lions, which was his first NFL start. Of course, with Charles Rogers and Roy Williams both out with injuries, Green Bay may have had the most favorable DB-WR matchup it will face this season. That wonít be the case against the Cowboys. The Packers, who rank 25th against the run, still havenít proven they can stop a quality running team. Dallas hasnít proven that they can run too often, but did rush well against the Giants two weeks ago. This will be the worse defense they have faced as they have gone up against 4 of the top 13 rushing defenses in the NFL. The Cowboys are struggling, but thanks to the success that Parcells has had and the demands he puts on his players, no coach is able to instill that confidence and get more out of his players than Parcells. "I think the team will reflect more of my attitude," Parcells said. "If I am constructively critical and positive with them and try to let them know that I do believe they can do things, that helps them. Right now, all of the teams in the league in our situation are getting the you-know-what-beat out them by the media and fans. I can't be that same hammer. I have to be something else." The Cowboys will enter this game with a sense of urgency, realizing that a loss will knock them two games below .500 and off the playoff pace they expect. While the Packers wonít be missing anyone as far as injuries go, some big names are nicked up and could be a problem throughout the game. Ahman Green (Achilles' tendon) took part in practice Friday and told offensive coordinator Tom Rossley he felt good afterward. Green declined to speak to the media. Cornerback Al Harris (toe, ankle) was held out but will be ready Sunday; receiver Robert Ferguson (calf, Achilles' tendon) returned and was upgraded to probable. They will play but how effective they will be is the question. Parcells is 17-7 against NFC North teams.


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